The estimates in Command Paper 2235 carry no implication about the rates of particular benefits in 1967–68. They are a financial projection, at 1963 prices, of the Government's policies. The assumptions which relate to benefits and assistance are given in paragraph 21 of the White Paper. The increase in expenditure of £360 million would represent a substantial improvement in real terms.
Is the Minister not being just a little bit coy about this? Is he aware that the paragraph to which he refers suggests that pensioners must stick to the guiding light whatever happens to other incomes generally? Does not the Minister feel that the actual rate of pension implied in that paragraph, whether he likes it or not, should be announced, so that a public debate can take place about whether this is a fair method of handling pensions?
No, Sir. I do not think that it would be desirable because, as the hon. Member will agree, a number of assumptions are contained in the White Paper, and one of the important assumptions is that of constant prices. All I can say at the moment is that if the expenditure of £360 million were added to the existing expenditure, even despite the increasing number of pensioners who would then qualify, the general increase in benefits would be considerable.